Community Isn't Easy
These past few days after the presidential election have been interesting to say the least.
Some people are still grieving the outcome of the election, and are being forced to come to grips with the fact that roughly half of their fellow citizens deeply disagree with them on the direction our country should take.
Still others are being confronted with the grief of their fellow citizens, and are struggling to understand it. I've spoken with some of these folks, who are flummoxed and angered by the protests that are springing up in all over the U.S.
Being in community is not easy.
Accepting others and their differences is not something most of us do all that well, if we are being honest. Most of don't do empathy with a great deal of ease, either. And forget about identifying with others completely. There are so few of us who are able to do that, it's shocking.
The Church ought to be a place where these things are the rule and not the exception, but those of us who make up the Church struggle just as much as anyone. And that struggle has been going on a very, very long time.
In I Corinthians 3:4-5 the Apostle Paul writes this:
"When one of you says, 'I am a follower of Paul,' and another says, 'I follow Apollos," aren't you acting just like people of the world? After all... we are only God's servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us."I think that the Church is (among other things) the space where we have the opportunity to train and learn what sort of people we need to be outside of the Church. The easiest way to understand how to do this well is by first admitting that in so many ways our faith communities are like family.
Philip Yancey wrote, "Family is the one institution we have no choice over. We get in simply by being born." Robert Frost wrote that family "is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in."
And sometimes your family members can be a pain in the behind, am I right? The same can be true about your faith community and the wider communities within which you live.
Henri Nouwen defined community as "a place where the person you least want to live with always lives."
It's a good thing that Jesus didn't have the same lack of empathy, the dearth of acceptance that we possess. The Eternal and Creative Word of God took on human form and in the words of Eugene Peterson, "moved into our neighborhood."
May the same mind be in us that was in Christ himself. May we humble ourselves, and do all that we can to identify with those who differ from us. May we seek to understand rather than condemn those differences. And may we live and love as beloved siblings in the kingdom of God for the sake of Jesus himself.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.